MONTREAL, QC. — Monday April 21, 2008. The Montreal Canadiens had just eliminated the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of the first round in the playoffs. The Habs had destroyed their most-hated rivals by a score of 5-to-0.
Their next adversary, in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, were the Philadelphia Flyers. The famed Broad Street Bullies.
Chantal had to get tickets.
She waited over six hours in the Canadiens’ virtual waiting room to purchase the coveted tickets.
Her wait was not in vain.
She managed to buy two tickets in the grey section for the first game scheduled: Thursday April 24, 2008.
She was so happy!
When Chantal received the tickets at home, she immediately gave them to Dave, her husband, and told him he could take anyone he wanted. In the past he had taken friends, his brothers-in-law, but this time Dave chose to take his dad.
Pierre, who everyone called Pete, was diagnosed with lung cancer in February of 2008 — Dave thought that attending a Habs game would make his dad happy.
He wasn’t wrong.
Traditionally it is the dads who take their sons to their first Montreal Canadiens game. This time the roles were reversed. Dave was taking Pete to his first ever Habs game.
It was a first in every way. Pete had never been to the Bell Centre and had never seen the Habs play live.
He was very excited.
The night of the game Pete wore a red T-shirt. He didn’t have any Habs gear and he wanted to “fit in” — that’s what he told Chantal and Dave with an impish grin on his face.
Dave and Pete arrived downtown, parked at the Bell Centre and went for dinner. They ate club sandwiches at a restaurant close to the arena. Pete insisted on treating Dave to dinner and parking, after all, his son was taking him to the game!
The time had arrived for them to enter the Bell Centre and find their seats. As they got their tickets validated, they were handed the 2008 playoff towels.
Pete was so pleased. He finally had some Habs gear!
The pair took their seats. The father and son were sitting pretty high but had a spectacular view.
Pete was so impressed.
The first period was under way and the Flyers opened the scoring. R.J. Umberger scored the first goal at 13:15. Then Jim Dowd scored with the clock showing 16:49. The period ended with the Habs trailing 2-0.
This didn’t impede Pete from cheering and waving his towel with pride!
Montreal dominated the second period. Andrei Kostitsyn scores after taking a pass from his little brother Sergei. It was 9:44. The Habs were finally on the board.
Pete couldn’t believe how loud the Bell Centre got and how the building shook when Kostitsyn scored. At 16:03 of the period, Alexei Kovalev scored on a pass from Tomas Plekanec.
The Bell Centre erupted. The game was tied.
Pete was having the time of his life.
The third period started with a bang. Nineteen seconds in and Joffrey Lupul scored. It was 3-2 Flyers. When Alexei Kovalev scored the third Habs goal on a pass from Saku Koivu at 19:31 the cheers were deafening.
Pete thought he had never been anywhere so loud and crazy — here he was and having the time of his life.
The game went to overtime and it didn’t last long. Tom Kostopoulos scored after 48 seconds.
The Habs won! 4-3 was the final score.
It was the only game the Habs won in that series and were eliminated on May 3, 2008 effectively putting an end to their best season since their Stanley Cup run in 1992-1993.
It didn’t matter though.
What mattered was that Dave had the best night ever with his dad.
Less than a year after that wonderful night, in January of 2009, Pete succumbed to the lung cancer.
Dave will never forget that night and the joy he saw on his dad’s face by taking Pete to his first ever Habs game.
Dave has been back to the Bell Centre since then and every time the building shakes when Nos Glorieux score, he thinks of Pete.
Chantal is the managing editor of All Habs Hockey Magazine. She is a passionate, witty, sarcastic woman, who is happily married to Dave and addicted to her Blackberry. Pete was her father-in-law who she misses greatly. Both her and Dave purchased a Centennial Plaza Brick in honour of their heroes, Pete and Chantal’s father Robert who is also battling cancer. You can follow Chantal on Twitter @habsgirl4life